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Controversial move to charge bars costs of policing drunken clubbers on Southampton streets
7:17am Wednesday 30th October 2013 in News
CITY bosses want to introduce a controversial charge on Southampton’s night time economy to help cover the cost of policing drunken revellers, it was revealed last night.
Details of the night-time levy on bars and clubs in Southampton were revealed last night at a community safety conference attended by more than 100 people.
The scheme could see venues that serve alcohol into the early hours charged up to £4,440 per year.
It comes after a Daily Echo investigation found cheap deals, including drinks for 80p and two-for-one offers, in venues that claim they promote responsible drinking.
It is hoped the extra money could free up police to patrol communities outside the city centre on a Friday and Saturday night by paying for more officers or to pay for more authorised stewards.
The powers are available to local authorities under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011.
City leader Simon Letts, below, said a poll of residents, carried out alongside consultation on budget plans, found 91 per cent of people supported the levy.
He said: “They are part of taking a profit and creating a problem, and therefore it is only fair that they make a contribution to sorting it out.
“About 50 per cent of the police resources is in the city centre in the weekend.
“Commitment I have informally from the police is that resources will flow out from the city centre because it will pay for an additional resource.”
Councillor Satvir Kaur, below, Southampton's Cabinet member for communities, said: “We have 40,000 students in the city that we cater for, and they have a huge impact to night-time life in the inner city.
“If licensed establishments can afford shots for £1, surely they can afford the levy.”
Venue owners have not been told about the controversial plans yet, she said.
The move is set to be debated by full council later this month.
It will then go before Southampton’s Safe City Partnership before going out to consultation in the new year.
The exact amount of money that could be raised from the levy has yet to be worked out, but a planned levy in Plymouth, Devon, is set to raise between £80,000 and £150,000 per year.
Southampton police would receive 70 per cent of the money, while the city council would receive 30 per cent which it would split between voluntary groups.
Superintendent James Fulton said he backed the principle of the levy: “Those who are running the businesses that are causing those problems should make a contribution to the policing and safety bill.”
Jenni Polybank, from the Glen Eyres Neighbourhood Watch in in Highfield, said: “I think it is a good idea because [bar owners] are making money out of selling alcohol, which is clearly having an effect on the local community and the health of young people.”
The proposal came to light at the Community Safety Conference where residents, healthcare professionals and community leaders met to learn more about Southampton’s Safe City Partnership between the city council, police and other organisations.
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